Kindergarten Aubrey

“Would you like to see my book?! I just finished it.”

Yes, please.

She holds her 5 page booklet up to her Zoom screen to read. “How to Make a Cake by Kindergarten Aubrey.”

Kindergarten Aubrey.

I was so struck by her calling herself that. It was almost as if she understood that she was yet another incarnation of Aubrey. That she would be constantly evolving throughout her life. We went on to talk about her writing. It was a writing conference where I was really trying to understand Aubrey the writer and more than that, Aubrey the person.

Later, thinking about how she called herself, I wondered why I had never called myself the same way. What if, upon presenting my first baby, I said to hospital visitors, “This is Dylan Patrick by 35 year old Natalie.” I did not have a grade at that time to name. We are not in grades after a while after all. But, we still have seasons of our life. What might I have called that season besides my age?

I found myself thinking about this as I walked my dog. I noticed he was searching for snow again. Now disappeared. He had come to love his daily king-of-the-mountain poops. What was a tired old tree trunk poop compared to that?!

Maybe that season was my baby making season. Imagine me again with those same hospital visitors, “This is Dylan Patrick by baby making Natalie.” I kind of like the idea of naming my season so that I see that time as just that a season. It is both permanent in how it feels at the time and totally impermanent in a life time. When I first had Dylan, my mom said to me, “My best advice to you is that everything is a stage. Good. Stage. Bad. Stage.” Wise advice for sure but my mom was 55 when she said this and Aubrey, 5.

Every Natalie is connected to all of the Natalie’s who came before and all of the Natalie’s who will come after. I will never know which Natalie is the last Natalie and I have a hard time choosing my favorite Natalie. Here are just a few of the hers that I have been in this life.

Peace Corps Volunteer Natalie.

Barnes and Noble Natalie.

New New Yorker Natalie. (Oooo… that one is catchy right?!)

First year teacher Natalie

Jimmy loving Natalie.

How did Aubrey know all of this already? How did she know that she will evolve through so many seasons? As a guest teacher, and like all teachers, I will just get to see a small part of her evolution as she moves toward becoming the fullest version of herself. A few seasons probably. Sometimes really just this one season. And, if that is true, then what I say to her in this 5 minute writing conference, matters. Kindergarten Aubrey will carry this on with her and I want it to power the evolution of her most authentic Aubrey. This piece of writing will fall away. But kindergarten Aubrey… now that’s an investment.

Kindergarten Aubrey is wise about life.

She also does really know how-to make a cake.

You should ask her about both.

11 thoughts on “Kindergarten Aubrey

  1. glenda funk

    As I read I thought about Shakespeare’s “Seven Stages of Man” and the seasons in Ecclesiastes. I think our minds are meant to sort and organize in these ways. I remember reading Kathryn Graham’s autobiography in which she wrote about her father’s three stages of his adult life: building a career, raising a family, performing altruistic deeds. Maybe Aubrey just knows this intuitively. Maybe she’s heard some version of it at home. She sounds mature and analytical, a good start for a girl.

  2. jcareyreads

    I miss watching you with kids. You’re a master at seeing kids and that is something I carry with me every time I sit down with a kid- because their whole demeanor changes when they know you really see them. This is so lovely. I liked how you opened and closed with Aubrey’s story. You also have me thinking about the seasons of my life now. Aubrey is very wise.

  3. TLC

    I want to meet this bold kindergartener. I always find myself saying, “I am so different now than I was 10 years ago, 5 years ago, or even 1 year ago.” I love the idea of using a “stage” rather than the number in years!

  4. Writing to Learn, Learning to Write

    You have me thinking again….as you always do. I miss my Natalie-has-me-thinking Erika. These have been some of my favorite seasons, and I really hope we can return to these seasons again next year. I just love the way you watch kids, learn from kids, and celebrate kids. Miss you!

  5. Natalie Dunne

    I love your blog because of all it says…but also because my name is Natalie and I get all silly and geek out when I find another one of us, lol. And I share one of your names! First Year Teacher Natalie 🙂

  6. edifiedlistener

    I found myself reading each section in a couple of different ways. Beginning with Aubrey, I wasn’t expecting to reflect on life stages and how you or I anyone might name them. An interesting read full of surprises.

  7. carwilc

    I love this!!! Everything is a stage! And then your list of stages! Today, as I turn 62, I am trying to figure out what stage is next!


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